By press time on Monday March 8th, Nomination Day, 41 hopefuls had completed their nomination for the Cayman Islands April 14th snap election.
That was just 20 short of the 61 who ran in the 2017 polls, and with several seats still unchallenged up to that point, speculation was rife over whether this year’s candidate turnout would match the last election...or if there were some surprises to be sprung.
(Caymanian Times will post the final candidate tally online once the Nomination Day process is complete. Our election coverage will continue in Friday’s paper and also online).
With Monday’s Nomination Day, campaigning - already in full swing - was expected to kick into even higher gear.
That was already noticeable with high-profile government project launches coinciding with the occasion and attention-grabbing political advertising hitting the printed press, the airwaves and social media.
For this election, the COVID-19 pandemic is not deterring the traditional strategies such as public rallies, community outreach, house calls and other in-person activities.
That is largely due to the success of the strict measures which had been put in place previously to suppress the spread of the virus.
It also means that Cayman is still one of the few places where public mask-wearing and social-distancing do not need to be as rigidly enforced compared to some other countries.
In the scheme of politics, especially during an election campaign, it is an achievement that the incumbent government would take credit for.
The current administration has been praised for its handling of the pandemic and for stabilising the economy despite the impact of the downturn due to the pandemic,.
However, it has faced criticism for over its policy of delaying the opening of the borders to regular international traffic, especially tourism.
The government has nevertheless been adamant in its 'health-befire-wealth' and 'beterr-safe-than-sorry' approach to managing the pandemic.
As the ruling People’s Progressive Movement(PPM)-led coalition seeks a third consecutive term, albeit under new leadership, outgoing Premier Alden McLaughlin has expressed confidence not only in his administration's track record.
Mr McLaughlin who is completing his constitutionally-limited tenure of two consecutive terms at the head of government is defending his seat in parliament and has stated that he will be available for a ministerial position if the PPM party forms or leads the next government.
He has already named Finance Minister Roy McTaggart to take over the party's leadership.
But with the campaign for the April 14th poll now kicking into top gear, challenging candidates - all independents - are already targetting several local issues where say the goverenment has fallen short.
These range from jobs for Caymanians and the place of nationals in the trajectory of the jurisdiction’s development, to the cost of living, roadworks and other public and private infrastructure and development projects.
In the coming days, full vent is expected to be given to these and other issues as candidates vie to retain, regain and realign positions in the Cayman's parliament and government.